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Written Statements

Volume 512: debated on Wednesday 30 June 2010

Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Business, Innovation and Skills

Trawlermen Compensation Scheme

The Government have today published a statement on the operation of the former Icelandic water trawlermen compensation scheme. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ website:

The Government received around 3,400 applications under the new scheme. To date around £3.7 million has been paid or is being paid, to just over 600 successful claimants. We are currently considering how best to take forward around 100 cases where claimants have been unable to provide copies of their fishing records. Around 400 appeals have been received to date, of which around 200 have been processed.

We believe that the new scheme delivers the Government’s objective of compensating former trawlermen for the loss of their livelihoods following the cod war treaties of the 1970s, and that we have met in full the recommendations made by the parliamentary ombudsman in her 2007 report. Total payments of around £60 million have now been made to trawlermen under this and the two previous compensation schemes, and we believe this issue has now been brought to a successful close.


United Kingdom Debt Management Office

The United Kingdom Debt Management Office (DMO) has today published its business plan for the year 2010-11. Copies have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and are available on the DMO’s website,

Communities and Local Government

Local Government (Doncaster)

On 2 June my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, announced to the House a package of intensive measures which he was proposing to turn around the governance of Doncaster metropolitan borough council after 15 years of poor governance and dysfunctional politics. He gave the authority until 23 June to make any representations on the draft direction he was proposing.

Having now given careful consideration to the representations received, we note that the authority accepts intervention is appropriate, and we recognise the commitment shown from the mayor, members and officers which has begun to address some of the outstanding issues.

I confirm we remain satisfied that there is a strong case for intervention at Doncaster metropolitan borough council, and accordingly, I have issued a direction under section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999 specifying the form of intervention, together with an explanatory memorandum.

The direction requires the authority to take specific actions, specify certain functions will be exercised by the Secretary of State and specify that certain other functions will be exercised by commissioners appointed by the Secretary of State.

As empowered by the direction we have from 1 July 2010 appointed Rob Vincent to be the chief executive at Doncaster metropolitan borough council. He is an experienced and well respected chief executive, currently at Kirklees council, who will be at Doncaster for a period of 18 months. He will also make recommendations to me by 31 October 2010 as to the appointment of a monitoring officer and chief finance officer, which the direction empowers us to make.

We have also as specified in the direction appointed three commissioners—Sir John Harman, Jessica Crowe, and Julie Kenny. They will be responsible for any matter referred to them by statutory officers due to concerns about the authority’s approach. They will also be responsible for senior officer appointments, discipline and dismissal. I am delighted that each has agreed to make their expertise available to the authority to draw on and assist them in their recovery.

The direction also requires the authority to co-operate with a recovery board comprising the commissioners, chief executive, children’s board chair and five other experts who we will be appointing to provide external support and challenge to the authority and monitor and report on the progress of recovery.

I believe the intervention package we have now put in place will secure the progress that Doncaster has already begun to make, and enable necessary further significant improvements to be made. We are very grateful to the Local Government Association and others within the local government sector who have helped in the development of this intervention package, and to Jo Miller, deputy chief executive at the Local Government Association, who stepped in and provided stability as the acting chief executive at the authority during transition.

The mayor, members and officers at Doncaster, with the support this intervention package gives, now have the opportunity to address, and once and for all resolve, the long standing problems at that council so that it can provide the services and local leadership the people of Doncaster have the right to expect.

Copies of the direction and explanatory memorandum have been placed in the Library of the House.


Defence Support Group

The following key targets have been agreed with the chief executives of the Defence Support Group (DSG) for the financial year 2010-11. They are designed to drive continued improvements in the agency’s performance and are as follows:

Defence Support Group (DSG)

KT1: Quality

Deliver an improved quality performance by achieving fewer than three attributable major customer concerns within DSG’s air business and implementing a new system to record “major” customer concerns for the land business and set a baseline against which future years’ targets can be set.

KT2: Financial Performance

To achieve at least a 3.5% return on capital employed.

KT3: Efficiency

To develop a phased DSG capacity and capability optimisation plan.

KT4: Delivery

To meet delivery targets as agreed with the customer:

(a) Air Business—to achieve 95% of customer programmes;

(b) Land Business—to meet customer agreed targets for delivery schedules on critical programme lines (94% September 2010, 94% December 2010 and 97% March 2011) and land load tasks (92% of urgent specified tasks, 85% of routine tasks).

Met Office

The Ministry of Defence plans shortly to release information on Met Office financial year 2010-11.


Family Justice Review

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education, the Minister with responsibility for children and families, the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) and I wish to make the following statement to the House about our plans for a comprehensive review of the family justice system.

My hon. Friend and I have asked David Norgrove to build on his preliminary work in this area to undertake a comprehensive review of the family justice system. This review will examine both public and private law cases. In public law this means looking at how the courts, with other agencies, manage cases involving children and the public care system. In private law this means looking at contact and residence disputes between family members and will include considering how to increase the use of mediation when couples break up, and how best to provide greater access rights to non-resident parents and grandparents.

The review will also examine the processes involved in granting divorces and awarding ancillary relief, but will not extend to the law as it relates to the grounds for divorce or the amounts of ancillary relief that should be awarded.

The terms of reference have set this out in more detail and a copy has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The panel is today launching their call for evidence. The panel wishes to hear from children, families, professionals and representative groups involved in the family justice system. A series of questions have been posed to frame responses; a copy of these questions has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.